Panhandle Wildfires 100% Contained

Wildfire damage
Wildfire damage | Image by Mark Rogers/The Texas Tribune

All four wildfires that swept across the Texas Panhandle over the last three weeks are now reportedly 100% contained.

Containment does not necessarily mean that the fire has been completely extinguished but rather, a perimeter has been established around the fire to keep it from spreading further, as NPR reported.

Local and state firefighters and other resources across Texas have worked together since late February to battle the wildfires in the Panhandle that prompted multiple evacuations and a disaster declaration from Gov. Greg Abbott.

The Grapevine Creek Fire in Gray County, which burned 34,883 acres, was reported as 100% contained on March 11, while the 50-acre Wellhouse Fire in Carson County was fully contained as of March 14. The Windy Deuce Fire in Moore County, which charred 144,045 acres, was fully contained as of March 16, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.

The largest wildfire by far was the Smokehouse Creek Fire, which burned 1,058,482 acres before it was finally fully contained on March 16. Located in Hutchinson County near Amarillo, the Smokehouse Creek Fire was the largest in the history of Texas and the second largest in the U.S., as reported in The Dallas Express.

Although the fires have been contained, the flames within the established perimeter may continue to burn for several weeks or even months, NPR reported.

“All state resources have been released and the fire has transitioned back to the local unit,” the Forest Service said in a social media post on March 16.

The recent wildfires killed two people and thousands of cattle and destroyed hundreds of homes, businesses, and other structures in the Panhandle area.

Relief efforts for the affected areas are still ongoing. The United States Small Business (SBA) Association announced its own disaster declaration due to the fires last week, making low-interest federal disaster loans available to local businesses and residents.

“SBA’s mission-driven team stands ready to help Texas’ small businesses and residents impacted by the Smokehouse Creek Fire and the Windy Deuce Fire,” said SBA  Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, according to a news release. “We’re committed to providing federal disaster loans swiftly and efficiently, with a customer-centric approach to help businesses and communities recover and rebuild.”

Residents in the Panhandle will see additional relief in the coming days in the form of precipitation. The National Weather Service in Amarillo reported a potential for showers and storms in the southeastern portion of the Panhandle for March 20, some of which could become strong or severe.

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